Friday, August 26, 2016

Video: The Northern Lights as Viewed From a Drone

What do you get when you fly a drone into the Northern Lights? Why this spectacular video of course. Shot on the Reykjanes Peninsula in Iceland, where the stunning landscapes found there are illuminated by the otherworldly light given off by the aurora borealis. This is a fitting way to wrap up another busy week, and a two-minute video that everyone should see. Enjoy!

Northern Lights shot with a Drone from O Z Z O Photography on Vimeo.

Video: Grand Teton National Park as You've Never Seen it Before

We continue our theme of sharing videos from America's national parks today with this amazing clip from our friends over at Teton Gravity Research. They take us deep into Grand Teton National Park to give us a look at the place at it has never been seen before. As you'll see, it is wilderness playground unlike any other, and due to its proximity to Yellowstone, an often overlooked destination for adventure.

Gear Closet: Victorinox Traveller Lite Swiss Army Knife

In terms of outdoor gear, there are few pieces of equipment that come close to being quite so iconic as the famed Swiss Army Knife. This handy tool can trace its roots all the way back to 1891, which is when the company that would eventually go on to be known as Victorinox would begin producing their first knives. Since then, those products have continued to evolve and are now shipped all of the world, with just about every outdoor enthusiast owning on at some point in their lives.

Recently, I carried the Victorinox Traveller Lite with me on my trip through Mongolia, and as usual, it proved itself to be a handy companion. The knife comes equipped with everything you need, and a few things you didn't even know you wanted, making it a useful item to have in your pack or pocket at just about any time.

Sorting through the incredibly long catalog of knives on the Victorinox website will probably leave your head spinning. There are so many choices to examine that it can be difficult to find the one that best suits your exact needs. But, the Traveller Lite was certainly a good choice for me, as it features just about every tool imaginable, including both large and small knife blades, a can opener, screw driver, a bottle opener, a corkscrew, scissors, and more. In short, it has about every tool you wold expect from a Swiss Army Knife, and they are all squeezed into a small enough space that it can easily be slipped into your pocket.

Adventure Travel Briefs: A Cruise Ship in the Northwest Passage and Is Adventure Travel Endangered?

There have been a number of interesting stories to come out of the adventure travel industry lately, not all of which are worth their own post, but together they make an interesting story to share with readers. For those of you out there who enjoy pursing some adventures of their own, here are a couple of things to have on your radar.

Luxury Cruise Ship Sails the Northwest Passage
In recent years, climate change has allowed the famed Northwest Passage – an area of open sea in the Arctic Ocean above Canada – to become far less treacherous and more navigable by boat. In the past, the ice would either stay locked in place even during the summer months, or the route would remain dangerous due to large ice bergs choking the path. That isn't the case any longer, and for several months each year it is possible to sail from the Atlantic to the Pacific via the Arctic.

Now, a luxury cruise ship by the name of Serenity has embarked on a 32-day journey across the entire passage. The ship set sail from Seward, Alaska last week, and is now making its way towards New York City. While small ships have made their way along the legendary route in recent years, this is the first time a large ship has done so. The Serenity can carry more than 1700 people.

Hopefully the cruise goes off without any major issues. The Canadian Coast Guard estimates its response time to an emergency at 11 hours. That's a long time should anything go wrong. Fingers crossed this doesn't become a major trend either, as the Arctic Ocean is still a very fragile ecosystem.

Himalaya Fall 2016: Busy Season Ahead in Nepal

It looks like the fall climbing season in Nepal will be a busy one. After seeing a resurgence of climbers on Everest and other 8000 meter peaks this past spring, it now appears that the trend will continue with a slate of climbs scheduled for the fall as well. And with the official start of the season just a few days away, scores of mountaineers are now arriving in country.

According to this story from The Himalayan Times Manaslu will be the favorite target for the climbing teams this autumn. About 100 foreign climbers have received permits to attempt the 8163 meter (26,781 ft) peak, with the first 40 mountaineers departing from Kathmandu yesterday. They'll spend a few days trekking before reaching Base Camp, but should get there sometime late next week, just as the fall season – which traditionally runs from September to November – starts to get underway.

Other mountains that will be seeing some traffic this fall include Dhaulagiri and Lhotse, as well as non-8000 meter peaks Ama Dablam, Himlung and Putha Hiuchuli. Those mountains won't have nearly as many men and women on their slopes however, as Manaslu remains the big draw.

As has become typical for this time of year, there are no reported attempts on Everest from the South Side at this time. That could change as more climbers apply for their permits, but as of now Spanish ultrarunner Kilian Jornet and Japanese mountaineer Nobukazu Kuriki are the only ones who will challenge the world's highest peak this season. Both will make their ascent from the North Side.

According to the story from the Times, some of these groups will be quite large. For instance, Seven Summits Treks will lead four groups consisting of 60 climbers on Manaslu themselves, which may be as much as half of the number of foreign climbers heading to Nepal this autumn.

Following the tragic earthquake last spring, it was good to see mountaineers returning to Nepal this year. By most accounts, the spring climbing season was a highly successful one, and the fall looks to continue that success. Of course, all of these expeditions employ Sherpa guides and high altitude porters, which brings much needed cash to the economy of Nepal as well. We'll of course be keeping a close eye on the proceedings there, and will report any news moving forward.

Gadd luck to everyone heading into the mountains. Stay safe!


Thursday, August 25, 2016

Video: Powerful Yellowstone in Timelapse

Most of the videos I've shared this week have centered around America's national parks in some way, and this one is no exception. This time we travel to Yellowstone – the first national park in the entire world – to catch a glimpse of the powerful forces at work there. Through timelapse video you'll see some of the park's famous geothermal anomalies at work, as just below the surface sits one of the most powerful super volcanoes on the entire planet. This is part of what makes Yellowstone so special, and seeing it captured in this manner is incredibly impressive indeed.

SKYGLOWPROJECT.COM : HADES EXHALES from Harun Mehmedinovic on Vimeo.

Video: Celebrating 100 Years of America's National Parks

If you've been reading The Adventure Blog this week, you know that today is the 100th anniversary of the founding of America's National Park Service. This video comes our way courtesy of CBS, and it was made with one purpose - celebrating 100 year of the national parks. This is a momentous occasion indeed, so sit back and enjoy this four-minute clip that will remind you of why these places are so special.

Gear Closet: Catalyst Apple Watch Waterproof Case

I have a confession to make. I absolutely love my Apple Watch. In fact, I pretty much wear it every day. It isn't just a watch for me, but also a fitness tracker, communications device, and a way to keep tabs of my calendar. It also holds my boarding passes when going through the airport, discreetly displays text and alert messages, and controls my music and podcasts when I'm out on a run. In short, it has become an important part of my daily life. 

All of that said, there are times when I wish the Apple Watch were a bit more rugged. Sometimes I'll wear it on my outdoor adventures, and it seems a bit fragile for use in the backcountry. Especially if I'm doing anything that involves being out on the water. Don't get me wrong, the Watch can survive a dunking, but Apple falls short of actually declaring it water proof, and you're on your own if you go swimming with it. Which is why I was eager to try out the Apple Watch Case from Catalyst, a product that promises to add rugged protection to the smartwatch and even protect it from water.

The Apple Watch Case is certified to the IP68 standard, which means it will keep your watch waterproof down to 50 meters (165 ft). It has also been built to the MIL-SPEC 810G standard for protection against drops as well, giving your Apple Watch a suit of armor that protects it from the elements. Those two factors alone make it a worthwhile product for anyone who like to wear their smartwatch in the outdoors, as you'll definitely feel more confident when it is wrapped up in this protective shell. 

Installing the Apple Watch Case is surprisingly easy. There is one tiny screw to remove (Catalyst includes a proper screw driver in the packaging) to gain access to the interior of the case. Before doing so, you simply remove the current watch band that you have on the Apple Watch – a process that takes seconds – and then place the watch housing itself inside a thin rapper seal that provides an extra level of protection from moisture. Then, you place it into the case and reseal it using the same screw and screw driver. 

Use of Helicopters on Everest Rises Dramatically

If you followed the spring climbing season on Everest with any regularity this year, it was evident that the use of helicopters on the mountain had risen dramatically. But a new report gives us an even closer look at the numbers, that now show not just a surprising number of flights to the mountain, but that many of them were unauthorized. 

According to this story from The Himalayan Times, there were more than 150 helicopter flights conducted to Everest Base Camp and higher during the spring 2016 climbing season. Sources at the Tenzing Hillary Airport in Lukla say that six companies operated at least 151 flights above 5000 meters (16,404 ft) in April and May without properly reporting their activities to Nepal's Civil Aviation Authority. Of those, about 30% (roughly 45 flights) were to locations above Base Camp, most notably Camp 1 and Camp 2 on Everest.

Regulations state that helicopter flights are to go no higher than BC unless they are conducting emergency rescue operations. Those types of flights are monitored closely by Aviation officials, but it seems in this case many pilots were indicating that they were flying to Base Camp, only to go higher up the mountain later on. Authorities say that by going to higher altitudes the pilots are risking their own lives and those of their passengers, warning that there could be a fatal accident if such operations continue.

Representatives of the six companies that conduct the flights insist that they only went to the higher camps to rescue climbers who requested assistance and that they weren't doing anything outside of the regulations. The fact that so many of those flights went unreported however would suggest otherwise. If all of the flights were conducted above board, there would be no need to not report them. 

U.S. Creates New National Park on Centennial of Park Service

Today is a landmark day for America's National Park Service. It was 100 years ago to the day – August 25, 1916 – that the NPS was created by an act of Congress and signed into law by President Woodrow Wilson, who charged the organization with the monumental task of preserving the country's best wild landscapes, and making them accessible to the public. That has been a duty that the men and women of the Park Service have taken very seriously for a century, and they are already planning for the next 100 years.

Over the next few days, there will be celebrations held all over the U.S. – including free entry to all parks from today through Sunday – to salute the NPS and the national parks in general. Those places are destinations that are incredibly iconic not just for outdoor enthusiasts like you and me, but for millions of travelers who visit the parks on an annual basis to take in their splendor. After all, who amongst us doesn't recall a family vacation during which you loaded up the car and headed out a on a road trip that passed through at least one national park along the way?

There is of course a no more fitting way to celebrate the centennial than to welcome another national park into the fold. Yesterday it was announced that the 413th entity to fall under the Park Service's care would be Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument, which was established on the eve of the 100th anniversary of the founding of the NPS.

Katahdin, which is located in Maine, is made up of 87,500 acres of wild backcountry. The land was donated to the Park Service by Roxanne Quimby and her family, who also are known for creating the Burt's Bees line of outdoor products. Their gift includes a $20 million endowment to help protect this area of land, which is nearly twice the size of Acadia National Park.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Video: Amongst the Ancients in California

In need of two-minutes of pure bliss? Than this video ought to do the trick. It is a timelapse clip shot in the Sierra Mountains of California that give us some breathtaking views of that part of the world. Utterly spectacular, I'm sure you'll agree that this is a video that is worth watching beginning to end. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Among the Ancients - California Timelapse 4K from Michael Shainblum on Vimeo.

Video: The Best of Great Smoky Mountains National Park

We continue our salute to the National Park Service this week with another great video from America's National Parks. This time, we travel to the Great Smoky Mountains to explore the most visited park in the entire U.S. system. More than 10 million people visit this place every year, and after watching this video, you'll understand why. Wild, remote, and beautiful, and yet still accessible, this is truly a great adventure destination.

Gear Closet: Dog & Bone Locksmart Mini Bluetooth Smart Padlock

Keeping your possessions safe and secure while traveling can be a real challenge in this day and age. It seems no matter where you go, someone is looking to steal your stuff. That's why it is a good idea to carry a padlock with you when you hit the road, as it gives you the ability to secure your bags when they aren't in sight. But if you're like me, remember a combination to such a lock can sometimes be difficult, particularly if you don't use it often. And sure, you could always use a lock that requires a key instead. But, in the age of constantly evolving technology and increasingly smarter devices, there seems like there should be something better. Allow me to introduce you to the Locksmart Mini from Dog & Bone.

At first glance, the Locksmart Mini looks like most other padlocks you might come across. It has a thick, durable hardened steel shackle that connects to whatever it is you want to lock up, and its body feels durable and tough in your hand. The exterior is coated in a protective covering that also give is a unique, colorful look too. But upon further inspection, you'll start to notice a few things that separate this lock from others. For example, there is an LED light on the front, and no key hole whatsoever.

Yep, you read that right, this is a lock without a key or combination of any kind. Instead, the Locksmart connects to your smartphone via Bluetooth and is controlled by an app (available for iOS and Android). That app allows you to unlock the device when you need access to your belongings, but also gives you the ability to control multiple locks or even share access with someone else from anywhere in the world. That means that even though you're away on a trip, you can still allow someone back home to unlock the Locksmart should the need arise.

Paring the lock with your smartphone takes just a few seconds, and couldn't be easier. The real power lies within the app that you must download and install on your mobile device. It is from there that you can name your locks and turn off and on certain features. The app also allows you to add other users, giving them full or temporary access to your Locksmart.

Gear Junkie Gives Us 10 Gear Trends to Watch for in 2017

It's hard to believe but 2016 is already starting to wind down. Sure, we're still in the midst of the dog days of summer here in the Northern Hemisphere, but the final days of August is in sight, and we're only a few short months from the end of the year. With that in mind, our friends over at Gear Junkie have peered into their crystal ball and looked into the future, giving us 10 gear trends to watch out for in 2017.

For anyone who attended the Summer Outdoor Retailer convention a few weeks back, most of these trends won't come as much of a surprise. Walking the halls of the Salt Palace in Salt Lake City, Utah, it was clear where the industry is headed. But, those same trends aren't quite as clear to the outside observer who wasn't lucky enough to see all of the major outdoor brands collected under one roof.

So what can we expect from our gear in 2017? I won't spoil the entire list, but there are certainly a few items that are worth mentioning. For instance, there is definitely a concerted effort in the outdoor industry to make our gear more "green." Companies are searching for ways to use recycled materials for instance, and they are changing the way they manufacture their products so that they use less water and have a decreased impact on the environment. We've seen a few efforts in this direction in the past, but it is really picking up steam now. Over the next few years, those efforts will not only increase dramatically, they'll also become much more common place.

Other trends that Gear Junkie says we should watch for include more sophisticated drones, boots that grip ice better, and performance apparel that will help keep us cooler. The other items on the list are equally intriguing, and definitely reflect the same things I saw at OR.

If you're a gear nerd like me, you'll probably find GJ's list very interesting. The industry is definitely moving forward with some new initiatives and we'll all get the opportunity to benefit from it.

Himalaya Fall 2016: Japanese Climber Nobukazu Kuriki Heading Back to Everest

We're in a bit of a lull in the mountaineering scene right now. Yes, Kilian Jornet is in Tibet and preparing for his speed record attempt on Everest, but for the most part this is the time of year when there is a brief pause between the summer climbing season in Pakistan and the fall climbing season in Nepal and Tibet. Most of the teams that are preparing for a Himalayan summit in the next few months are waiting for the monsoon to subside before heading to the mountains. Once that happens over the next few weeks, we'll begin to see climbers arriving in Kathmandu once again.

In recent years, the fall season in the Himalaya has mostly concentrated on 8000 meter peaks other than Everest. A lot of mountaineers use this time of the year to gain valuable experience ahead of an Everest attempt next spring, so you're more likely to see expeditions to Shishapangma, Cho Oyu, or even Ama Dablam. But, there are still some climbers who will focus on the world's highest peak, most notably Japanese Nobukazu Kuriki.

If that name sounds familiar it is because this fall Kuriki will be making his sixth attempt on Everest, once again looking to summit solo and without oxygen. He has tried this same feat in the past, and it hasn't always gone well for him. Back in 2012, the Japanese mountaineer ended up getting stranded high on the mountain and head to be rescued, but not before he suffered severe frostbite in his hands and feet. He ended up losing parts of nine fingers in the process.

That hasn't deterred him from attempting Everest however. He climbed on the South Side last year and made a valiant effort before ultimately having to call it quits. This year he'll have a go at the summit from the Tibetan side of the mountain, where he hasn't climbed before. It is unclear whey he decided to make the change, but it could have something to do with Nepal's recently discussed new restrictions, which ban solo climbers altogether.

Kuriki, who is a popular figure back home in Japan, has crowdfunded his latest expedition, easily surpassing his goals to get the money he needs for this climb. He'll now prepare to head back to the Himalaya this fall, most likely sometime in September. That's about when Jornet hopes to be wrapping up his speed attempt, so the two might not even be on the mountain at the same time.

As German adventure sports writer Stefan Nestler points out, there hasn't been a successful fall summit of Everest in nearly six years. That's when Eric Larsen topped out along with five Sherpas as part of the Save the Poles project. Lets hope Kilian and Nobu have more luck this year.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Video: Yosemite Ranger Meets the True Owners of the National Parks

As we edge closer to the 100th anniversary celebration of the National Park Service later this week, this video gives us a good reminder about what those parks are all about. The clip, which comes our way courtesy of NBC News, introduces us to the true owners of these parks – the American people themselves. The national parks have been called "America's Best Idea" and for good reason. Prior to the designation of the world's first national park – Yellowstone – the idea of setting aside lands for the greater good of the public was completely unknown. Now, there are thousands of national parks around the world, with more being created on a regular basis.

Video: Mountain Biking Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Jackson Hole, Wyoming is one of the truly great adventure destinations in the American west. Not only does it offer great skiing and snowboarding in the winter, there are plenty of trails to hike and ride during the rest of the year as well. In this video we travel to Jackson with pro mountain bikers Curtis Keene and Jared Graves where they discover some epic singletrack mixed in with the breathtaking scenery that this part of the country is so well known for. Enjoy the video, but be warned: You're probably going to want to ride these trails yourself.

Gear Closet: Altra Lone Peak 3.0 Hiking Shoes

A couple of weeks back I took a look at the new Altra Superior 2.0 trail running shoes, and found them to be an excellent choice for runners. At the time I mentioned that I was testing another pair of shoes from the company as well, and was eager to put them through their paces. Last week while visiting Quebec I had the opportunity to do just that, and ended up coming away just as impressed.

This time out I was testing the new Altra Lone Peak 3.0 NeoShell Mid, a hybrid shoe of sorts that blends the best elements of a trail runner with a lightweight hiker. It features Altra's proprietary Foot Shape technology that allows for more room in the toe box for a more natural fit, and its Abound materials that allow energy to return to the foot when walking. They also have a zero-drop sole that allows both the forefoot and heel to strike the ground at the same time, which encourages better form throughout the length of your run or hike.

This being the "mid" version of the original Lone Peak shoe it comes with more ankle support built-in. This not only comes in handy when hiking demanding trails, it also gives the shoe a look that more resembles a hiking boot as well. Since I was using them more in that capacity rather than as trail runners, I appreciated the extra support, even on routes that weren't especially demanding.

When compared to other hiking shoes, the Lone Peak 3.0 Mid is extremely lightweight, tipping the scale at just 10 ounces (283 grams). That made them extremely easy to pack for my Canadian adventure, and helped to reduce fatigue when wearing them for extended periods of time, both on the trail and walking around town. In fact, I'd say that these shoes are more on par weight-wise with the trail running shoes I wear from other companies, rather than most hiking shoes. In other words, if you're in the market for a new pair of hikers and are looking to shave off some ounces, this just might be the shoe you've been looking for.

Is the Grand Canyon in Jeopardy?

Yesterday I posted a beautiful video of the Grand Canyon in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service later this week. Everyone knows that the national park is one of the most iconic outdoor destinations in the entire world, with some of the most amazing opportunities for adventure. But are we losing the Grand Canyon to commercial and industrial development? That is the question posed in a new article from National Geographic that reveals an uncertain future for one of the U.S.'s most famous landscapes.

In order to explore the threats to the Grand Canyon, journalists Kevin Fedarko and Pete McBride have spent the better part of the past year exploring its wonders. Starting last fall, the two men have trekked for more than 650 miles (1046 km) through remote wilderness to not only get to understand the Canyon better, but to discover how its fragile ecosystem has increasingly become under siege by outside interests.

Along the way, they talked with people living in and around the park as the two men learned about the potential for over development and the increased stress put on the Grand Canyon due to a larger number of tourists visiting. But most importantly, they discovered that mining operations just outside the park's borders could have a long-lasting, and incredibly devastating, impact on the park itself, creating a potentially dangerous environmental catastrophe. For example, uranium is one of the substances that is mined near the park that could have severe impact on its future. In fact, U.S. Geological Survey data says that 15 springs and five wells near the Grand Canyon already have levels of uranium that are considered unsafe to drink. This is mostly due to incidents from older mines in the area, but it underscores the problem none the less.

While the story is already quite eye-opening, Fedarko and McBride aren't quite done yet. They're continuing to explore the Grand Canyon even now, with plans to wrap up their investigative expedition sometime in October. The story is of course still unfolding, but the hope is that we're not too late in spreading the word about the threats to this incredibly popular national park. After all, it is a place that has been presumably preserved for future generations to enjoy as well, so why would we want to spoil it now? Hopefully that won't happen.

Indian Couple Who Faked Everest Summit Face 10-Year Ban

Remember that Indian couple who were accused of faking their summit of Everest this past spring? It appears that a decision will soon be made on their fate, and it seems they'll not only be stripped of their summit certificates but they're also facing a very long ban from climbing on Everest again.

If you're not familiar with the story, Dinesh and Tarkeshwari Rathod are a husband and wife team who also happen to be police officers back in India. The two claimed to have reach the summit of Everest this past spring, but holes were punched in their story when photos that purported to show them on top of the world's highest peak appeared doctored. It seemed as if they had used photoshop to put themselves on the summit when they hadn't even gotten close to the point. The situation got even murkier when the Nepali guide service that they hired for the expedition certified their summit without any real evidence that they had topped out. Later, when the story received more scrutiny, government ministers in Nepal were forced to retract their summit certificates, and launch an investigation into the proceedings.

Last week, The Himalayan Times reported that a high-level committee looking into the situation has recommended at least a ten-year ban be placed on the couple. That means that for the next decade they would not be able to climb in Nepal at all. The investigation confirmed that the Rathods had made false claims about their expedition and had submitted doctored photos of their climb when applying for the certificates.

Furthermore, the committee also recommended delisting the climbing Sherpas that were with the Indian couple from the climbing record as well. They were working with the company called Makalu Adventure Treks at the time, and are considering action against another member of the team who had backed up the Rathods' claims. It doesn't appear that there will be any actions taken against the government liaison officer who may or may not have been in Base Camp during the time of the expedition either, but it is possible that any member of the expedition could also receive a minimum of a five-year ban.

The couple has stayed mum on all of these proceedings since the news broke, but it seems likely they were hoping to add an Everest summit to their resume to potentially increase their fortunes back in India, a country with a proud climbing tradition. An Everest summit there is seen as quite an accomplishment, which can lead to fame, money, and increased social standing. Now however, they instead face deep shame from their actions.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Video: Remote Iceland as Seen by a Drone

Take a drone's eye view of remote Iceland in this video, which gives us stunning views of the landscapes that are found there. You'll catch a glimpse of everything from rugged coastlines, snowcapped peaks, and lush forests, with just about everything in between. You'll discover a place that is epic in scale and is calling out to be explored. After watching the 2+ minute clip you'll begin to understand why Iceland holds such an allure with travelers.

Video: The Best of the Grand Canyon

This week, the U.S. National Park Service will celebrate its 100th birthday in grand fashion, with all kinds of special events taking place across the country. For those of us who love the parks, this is a major milestone in their history, and one well worth commemorating. The video below comes our way courtesy of National Geographic and shares the very best vistas and landscapes from one of the most iconic parks in the entire system – The Grand Canyon. It is a good reminder of just how special these places truly are, and why having protected public lands is such an important thing. Consider that this week as we all appreciate the NPS just a bit more.

Gear Closet: The Zus Ruggedized Charging Cable is a Fantastic Travel Accessory

These days when we travel we always carry a host of gadgets with us. In fact, depending on the trip I'm taking, I often have a wide variety of devices that I need to keep charged while on the go. Those include a smartphone, tablet, and at various times a rechargeable headlamp, smartwatch, water purifier, headphones, and more. In order to keep all of those items from becoming nothing more than dead weight, you'll also need to carry charging cables, most of which are not designed for use in the back country or withstand the rigors that are often placed on them when traveling. But fortunately, there are some options on the market that are built to survive, even in remote environments, making the ruggedized charging cable a must have for outdoor adventurers.

One such cable is the ZUS from Nonda. Encased in an outer shell of tough nylon braiding over a thin PVC tube, and made up of protected aramid fibers, this cable was built from the ground up to survive darn near anything. In fact, the ZUS was tested in the lab and survived being bent more than 15,000 times without suffering damage. But if that wasn't enough to convince you, it is also backed by a lifetime guarantee.

Available in standard micro-USB, USB-C, and Apple Lightning versions, the ZUS cable definitely feels more substantial in your hands than most other charging cables I've used, especially those that come directly from a device manufacturer. There is a clearly defined resistance in the cable that you can feel as you use it that simply provides a sense that even though you're twisting it about, it isn't doing any kind of damage to the cable itself.

Speaking of twisting it about, the ZUS has also been built to be tangle free, which is something I appreciate when traveling. The materials used to create this cable also prevent it from wrapping up around itself, which means you can pull it out of your pack and plug it into your device and charging solution within a matter of seconds. If you're carrying multiple cables with you, this feature is even more handy, and the ZUS doesn't end up wrapping itself around them. And since it comes with its own built-in Velcro tie, it is extremely easy to keep it organized too.

Outside Gives Us the Best New Gear for Under $50

The 2016 Summer Outdoor Retailer show may be long over at this point, but there are still things to be said about what we saw there. Case in point, Outside magazine has posted a story that reveals their picks for the best pieces of gear for under $50, a price point that isn't necessarily all that common when it comes to the gear we use on our adventures.

So what made Outside's list? As you can imagine, they selected some unique items that are affordable, but also highly functional. For instance, Stanley showed off a new product designed to help keep your coffee warmer for longer, while Hydroflask revealed a Growler that can keep your craft brew drinks colder. Meanwhile, JetBoil's new MightyMo stove is certain to be a big hit in part because it weighs just 95 grams (3.35 ounces), and the latest knife from Gerber proves you don't have to break the bank to find a decent everyday carry for your pocket. Finally, the latest headlamp from Black Diamond also received a nod from the magazine thanks to it being very light (56 grams/1.97 ounces) and bright (150 lumens).

Since each of these items is $50 or less, there is sure to be a lot of interest in them. You'll probably have to be a bit patient however, as most of the gear shown at Outdoor Retailer won't be available until next spring. Still, it'll be worth the wait, and since these products are so inexpensive, you won't have to take out a second mortgage just to pay for them.

In the weeks ahead I'll be testing a lot of gear that I saw at OR and posting reviews. I've already started to receive some of those products, and there is plenty of good things to come for outdoor adventurers and travelers. I think you're going to be very happy with the way the industry is evolving, both in terms of delivering high quality gear that performs amazing well, and how eco-friendly the approach to creating our gear is becoming. It is an exciting time to say the least.

Himalaya Fall 2016: Kilian Trains in Tibet for Everest

We're back on a regular posting schedule for a few weeks after my recent visit to Quebec, and we have news from the Himalaya about Kilian Jornet's speed attempt on Everest. This expedition will be the last of his "Summits of My Life" project, which has also resulted in new records for the fastest known times on other major peaks, including Kilimanjaro, Aconcagua, and Denali.

If you've been following Kilian's progress at all, you probably know that he left for the Himalaya a few weeks back where he has been organizing gear, continuing his training, and acclimatizing to the altitude. But, we also have a few more specifics about his schedule over the past few days.

Last Tuesday, Kilian flew from Kathmandu to Lhasa in Tibet. He spent a day there before starting the drive to Everest Base Camp, which is accessible by car on the North Side of the mountain. But, it is still a dramatic gain in altitude during that drive, so most people still go slow, and take a few days to reach BC, allowing their bodies to acclimatize a bit along the way. With that in mind, the Spanish ultrarunner has been working out along the way.

Over the weekend, he was in Tingri at 4300 meters (14,107 ft) where Kilian conducted some training runs. That's an altitude he's accustomed to, having spent the last few years making the Alps of Europe his personal playground. He also spent a good deal of time there training before leaving for the Himalaya.

It isn't clear yet just when Kilian and his team will arrive in Base Camp, but I would expect that that will happen this week. From there, the plan is to acclimate to higher altitudes before getting ready to make his historic attempt on the summit of Everest. We're still a few weeks away from that happening, but it certainly should be interesting to follow his preparation for the final push to the top. Especially when you keep in mind that this will be his first foray above 8000 meters.

Kilian's approach to the speed attempt has been a simple one. Get to the mountain while it is still summer, before there is anyone else attempting to climb it in the fall. This will ensure that the route is free from crowds that could potentially low him down. Taking one of the routes on the North Side should help keep the still on-going monsoons at bay to a degree as well, although it still could be dicey up on top. He'll now focus solely on acclimatizing and scouting the route until he is fully ready to go. From there, it will be a simple matter of waiting for the weather to cooperate and then choosing the best time to go.

For now, we all wait for that to happen.